Angus McSix and the Sword of Power

rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. Master of the Universe
02. Sixcalibur
03. Laser-Shooting Dinosaur
04. Amazons of Caledonia
05. Ride to Hell
06. Starlord of the Sixtus Stellar System
07. The Vision in the Fires (Intro)
08. Eternal Warrior
09. The Key to Eternity
10. In a Past Reality
11. Fireflies of Doom
12. Just a Fool Will Play Tricks on Angus McSix (Bonus Track)

Once upon a time, a dead Scottish prince decided to rise from the grave. He travelled back through the depths of hell, drew the mighty sword "Sixcalibur" from its stony prison and then roared back into existence with an album full of giant, fantasy-via-videogame-influenced power metal anthems. Or something like that.

As frontman with GLORYHAMMER, Thomas Winkler spent a decade hitting the high notes and wielding a plastic sword. After his former colleagues disgraced themselves, he made the wise decision to embark on his own journey, albeit without making too many adjustments to the music formula that he is known for. Armed with a suitably preposterous concept (see above),he attacks his solo debut with the focused enthusiasm of a man with a point to prove. "Angus McSix and the Sword of Power" is incredibly silly on a lyrical level, and Winkler's fans will expect nothing less at this point, but in musical terms this is a much sharper and less self-consciously cheesy affair. Every conceivable power metal cliché is given a runout, but with regular dives into synthwave and 8-bit electronica, these songs sound fresh and timely.

It begins with a three-song avalanche of huge melodies and shiny bombast. "Master of the Universe" is the dramatic, scene-setting theme tune; "Sixcalibur" evokes Angus McSix's encounter with a large sword via a thunderous, trad metal shuffle; and in addition to its wonderful title, "Laser-Shooting Dinosaur" is a first class, high-octane disco-metal stomper, with one foot firmly in the retrowave domain. Winkler's voice is as lissom and potent as ever, but this music is more specifically tailored to his talents, and it shows. "Eternal Warrior" is an immaculate melodic metal rager, with strong shades of STRATOVARIUS. "The Key to Eternity" stays at a stately mid-pace, giving Winkler the space to wail and croon that he rarely had in GLORYHAMMER, and with a chef's-kiss chorus (and key change) to boot.

Even the defiantly daft "Starlord of the Sixtus Stellar System" avoids undermining itself with overt goofiness, instead hitting the '80s metal trail, with AOR keyboards twinkling in the background and ominous voiceovers buoyant on waves of synth. In contrast, "Fireflies of Doom" teeters on the edge of terminal ridiculousness, but never quite plunges into the abyss.

It might not be a comeback on a par with Elvis in '68, but "Angus McSix and the Sword of Power" does everything possible to reassert Winkler as a force to be reckoned with in the power metal world. The songs are sharp, snappy and delivered with passion and, impressively, a straight face. The lyrics swiftly establish a new but familiar world of screwball fantasy to explore. And, most importantly, ANGUS MCSIX sounds like the kind of all-powerful hero that will have more, and more ludicrous, adventures in future. Fireflies of doom, indeed. Welcome back.

Author: Dom Lawson
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